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recent portrait photo of Jean Ritchie program logo


Through interviews and recordings, KET’s Mountain Born: The Jean Ritchie Story not only chronicles the life of one folk singer and songwriter, but also introduces viewers to broader issues regarding the role of the traditional musician in contemporary society. Teachers will also find the program useful for generating classroom discussions about general topics such as life in Appalachia in the early part of the 20th century and the changing role of music in our lives, as well as more specific issues including the recent folk music revival and the influence of Appalachian music on performers from Johnny Cash to Bob Dylan.

There is much to be learned from Jean Ritchie’s life story, even for viewers whose background and experiences differ greatly from hers. It encourages us to reflect on and explore our own pasts, particularly with regard to family heritage and cultural background. Such recollections help inform our understanding of the present.

Teachers might want to preview the program before viewing it with a class to familiarize themselves with the content. To help you use the program, this site includes

Text by Karen L. Carter-Schwendler. Photo by Guy Mendes, KET.

Web resources: * Short profiles of Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan can be found at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame site.

Home video info

Mountain Born: The Jean Ritchie Story is a 1996 production of KET, The Kentucky Network; H. Russell Farmer and Guy Mendes, producers. If you have questions or suggestions regarding these web pages, contact .

600 Cooper Drive, Lexington, KY 40502 (859) 258-7000 (800) 432-0951